Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005
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*****= An all-time favorite
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***    = Above average
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*        = Good, with reservations

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****Plan B

Further Thoughts on Faith

by Anne Lamott

Reviewed April 22, 2005.
Riverhead Books (Penguin), New York, 2005.  320 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (MCN B LAM).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#1, Musings)

I love Anne Lamott’s books.  She knows how to laugh at herself and at all the things other people take too seriously.  She shares her own struggles and how God and God’s people came through for her.  For me, this book was wonderfully uplifting.

Republicans, do be warned:  One of the things she struggles about in this book is George W. Bush’s election and the war in Iraq.  If you don’t like people being funny at his expense, then I don’t think you’ll like this book.  As for me, it was nice to hear from someone who shared my perspective and to hear how she learned to deal with her anger.

Here are a few quotations I particularly liked:

“The problem with God—or at any rate, one of the top five most annoying things about God—is that He or She rarely answers right away.  It can take days, weeks.  Some people seem to understand this—that life and change take time.”

“I assumed Jesus wanted me to forgive her, but I also know he loves honesty and transparency.  I don’t think he was rolling his eyes impatiently at me while she was in the closet.  I don’t think much surprises him:  this is how we make important changes—barely, poorly, slowly.  And still, he raises his fist in triumph.”

“I live by the truth that ‘No’ is a complete sentence.  I rest as a spiritual act.”

“I have grown old enough to develop radical acceptance.  I insist on the right to swim in warm water at every opportunity, no matter how I look, no matter how young and gorgeous the other people on the beach are.  I don’t think that if I live to be eighty, I’m going to wish I’d spent more hours in the gym or kept my house a lot cleaner.  I’m going to wish I had swum more unashamedly, made more mistakes, spaced out more, rested.  On the day I die, I want to have had dessert.  So this informs how I live now.”

“Everyone has been having a hard time with life this year; not with all of it, just the waking hours.  Being awake is the one real fly in the ointment—but it is also when solutions come to us.”

“To be honest, I am never going to get anywhere with this president.  But Jesus kept harping on forgiveness and loving ones enemies, so I decided to try.  Why couldn’t Jesus command us to obsess about everything, to try to control and manipulate people, to try not to breathe at all, or to pay attention, stomp away to brood when people annoy us, and then eat a big bag of Hershey’s Kisses in bed?”

“I remembered something Father Tom had told me—that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.  Certainty is missing the point entirely.  Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.  Faith also means reaching deeply within, for the sense one was born with, the sense, for example, to go for a walk.”

“Some of her evangelical friends had insisted sorrowfully that her nieces wouldn’t get into heaven, since they were Jews, as was one of her sisters.  I told her what I believe to be true—that there was not one chance in a million that the nieces wouldn’t go to heaven, and if I was wrong, who would even want to go?  I promised that if there was any problem, she and I would refuse to go.  We’d organize.”

“I hate that you can’t prove the beliefs of my faith.  If I were God, I’d have the answers at the end of the workbook, so you could check as you went along, to see if you’re on the right track.  But nooooooo.  Darkness is our context, and Easter’s context:  without it, you couldn’t see the light.  Hope is not aboout proving anything.  It’s about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.”

Reviews of other books by Anne Lamott:
Bird by Bird
Some Assembly Required
Help Thanks Wow
Small Victories

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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